Leaders Stay on Message

My friend and guest blogger Matt Pries shared this anonymous quote:

“You will get tired of your message long before people fully understand it. And it is absolutely okay to not change the message and to be relentless, boring, and redundant to help people catch up to what you’re trying to get done.”

This is good stuff and reminded me of a couple thoughts.

Some of the most effective leaders and organizations keep information simple when it comes to vision. I know a successful high school basketball coach who would tell his players, “Remember, put the ball through the hoop more than the other team. That’s our goal.” This philosophy drove everything from drills to plays to half-time conversations.

In my early years as a facilitator, I used to do two things that I don’t do anymore:

  1. Change my programs each year so they aren’t the exact same thing from year to year.
  2. Apologize for repeated content elements (such as the shopping cart parking lot photo exercise) when clients would retain me for a different program.

I do not do either of these anymore for two reasons:

  1. A valued client got real with me 10 years ago. He said, “Look, Alan, we don’t hire you to experiment with new material on us. We hire you because your sh!% works. We get more done because of your program; we want the same thing.” That stuck with me.
  2. And, we overestimate how much information people need and how valuable our core information is. I no longer apologize for repeated information; in fact, I embrace my core message in all my programs–you are better off when people are team-focused rather than self-focused. Whether it’s time-management pointers, DiSC training, intense team development, decision-making strategies, Unconscious Bias, networking skills, or whatever… I embed the same basic information,.

So why do some leaders change things up too much?

The answer is at the beginning of the above quote: “You will get tired of your message long before people fully understand it.”

I realized I was changing programming up for the wrong reasons. Firstly, I wanted variety for myself. Secondly, I wanted to impress clients with my adaptability and ability to stay current. Now, I make adjustments, but they’re based on two criteria:

  1. Shifts over time in how people learn and apply content.
  2. If I discover sh!% that actually does work better than the classic sh!%.

So take heart. People love consistency, and sometimes the best messages are repeated clear guidance. Put the ball in the hoop more than the other team.

Thanks for reading,

Alan Feirer

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